Thursday, May 22, 2008

10 Questions

In this niche which is our mutual passion, boys and girls, there is little need for heirarchy. The genre eschews such notions as production by lower minds unable or unwilling to elevate and transcend the mental traps we know exist. (This is truth or you're not listening and paying attention.) In one way or another psychedelic music, and garage rock, seek to break down one barrier or another by the simple fact of their existence, sum ergo sum. Yet there's just no way 'round
our guest and his elevated status within this scene, none. He is, simply put, a giant. (He is in many ways the father/template to previous guest Plastic Crimewave.) 1983 seems to be a seminal year for our respondent: joined a band known as The Tell-Tale Hearts and also began what he's most known and revered for: Ugly Things magazine! A one-man flag-waver and drum-beater for the originals and prototypes from the halcyon days of the beginning of this music we love and obsess over. A seeker of knowledge who shares what he's found with any who will but read. (School's important!) A devotee. An acolyte. An aficionado. I hope everyone who reads this supports his labors. That kind of commitment deserves to be met with same. Readers, welcome MIKE STAX!

(cartoon by nine_art.)

Given the depth and breadth of what this man knows let's get right to his answers, shall we? Take it away Mike!

1. In ten words-or less, define "psychedelic music."
Music for the head.

2. What is the most psychedelic instrument, why?
Maybe Tommy Hall’s electric jug, providing that amazing, almost subliminal lysergic undercurrent to the 13th Floor Elevators’ music. Or perhaps Glenn Campbell’s steel guitar on those wonderful Misunderstood records?

3. Favorite psychedelic album of all time?
The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators

4. If you could be a member of any band in history, what band would it be
and what would you play?

Well, of course I’d want to sing for the Pretty Things.

5. What legendary lost recording or unfindable bootleg would you most like to have?
The Misunderstood’s press reception set at Fontana Records in December 1966, which included the otherwise unheard song “The Trip (To Inner Space)” – that must have been amazing!

6. What psychedelic album, besides your own, do you wish more people knew about?
The two Maitreya Kali albums, Apache and Inca. They were recorded and released by a guy named Craig Smith and are comprised of solo recordings in an eerie acoustic style and full psychedelic garage tracks by his band the Penny Arkade. The Penny Arkade portions were reissued by Sundazed and are just fantastic, like the best parts of the Buffalo Springfield and the Monkees.

7. What band, active today, most defines "psychedelic" to you?
None that I can think of. I’m not really in tune with much of today’s music. See question 10.

8. What song or album that wouldn't fall into the classic "psych" definition is, nevertheless, psychedelic to you?
“Can’t Stand the Pain” by the Pretty Things

9. Top Ten Psychedelic Songs?
Misunderstood – Children of the Sun
Misunderstood – I Can Take You to the Sun
Pretty Things – Defecting Grey
Pretty Things – Balloon Burning
13th Floor Elevators – Slip Inside This House
13th Floor Elevators – Roller Coaster
Yardbirds – Happenings Ten Years Time Ago
Pink Floyd – See Emily Play
The Creation – How Does It Feel to Feel
Tintern Abbey – Vacuum Cleaner

10. Turn the tables, if you'd like, and ask me a question.
Mike: What band, active today, most defines "psychedelic" to you?
valis: Kurt Reil of the Grip Weeds asked a similar question, turning the tables on me, back in March; I'd like to repost my answer:

Kurt: A question for you- do you think psychedelic music is still a vital genre today, and, if so, who are your favorite current practitioners of it?
valis: One of my favorite questions. I never tire of asking it of bands inside the genre to see how they feel about "the state of the state." My short answer to it is "YES!"; the longer answer is there will always be a human need for what has been termed "the Fourth Drive." As such, there will always be a need for music which enhances, amplifies, or downright does the mind-alteration itself! The desire is hard-wired into us. I'm a strong believer in both the Drive and the music-makers assisting me. So, is the genre "vital"? Absolutely. In every meaning of the word: "existing as a manifestation of life";"full of life and vigor"; "fundamentally concerned with or affecting life or living beings"; and, most germane to our discussion- "recording data relating to lives." I'm honestly and sincerely grateful to bands like the Grip Weeds for doing what you do! As to "favorite practitioners"? How much time do you have? (I could type all day and possibly not exhaust the list of bands working the genre. Some exclusively in the genre, others who are considered peripheral because they or others claim allegiance to another genre in the main. It matters not to me.)
I'll give it a go but please know this is by no means definitive: Damien Youth, Sun Dial, the Telepathic Butterflies, the High Dials, Outrageous Cherry, the Pillbugs, Anton Barbeau, the Squires of the Subterrain, Rockfour, Dog Age, Dora Flood, Deleted Waveform Gatherings, whatever band Joe Kane is in, The GO, Dhera Dun, Strange Flowers, Purple Overdose, the Lilys, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, the December Sound, the Sun Blindness, the Laurels, the Apples In Stereo, Ideal Free Distribution, Alfa 9, the Aliens, Clinic, the Black Angels, Reefus Moons, Jarvis Humby, When, Grails, Dungen & Life On Earth!, the Maharajas, the Hypnomen, Doleful Lions, the Dolly Rocker Movement, Deathray Davies, Lucky Bishops,Bryan Scary, the Photon Band, the Royal Purple, the Loons,the Urges,the Society of Rockets, Happy Band of Japan, Nolan's new band, etc., etc., and on and on. It really is GLOBAL and an omnipotent juggernaut! SALUTE!

(Addendum: I *really* could go on and on and on....there's more bands coming to my attention daily! I think Jamie Laboz is someone to watch, as is the Higher State and the Strangers. Mind-blowing how exciting this genre is.)

Thank YOU Mike!


sr-71 said...

Ugly Things is always a fascinating cover to cover read, and usually inspires me to search out several albums. Add that to Mike's work on the Misunderstood story and I'm smelling Pulitzer!

Anonymous said...

He's right about those Maitreya Kali albums...."Lights of Dawn" and "Color Fantasy" are beautiful examples of that era.

Jim K.

Jamie said...

Nice one - thanks for the props!!!

Anonymous said...

What a pity Mike "Isn't in tune," with any one of the fantastic psychedelic bands you quite rightly listed Valis. Of course we all love the original 'source' music of the genre but as I know you agree, the present musical output is sooo exhilirating it just makes me grateful that I can enjoy it as it happens. That said unquestionably Mike is a veritable font of psychedelic info.